Um... Duhhh. You gots any food?

I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately about finding the unique places and fun things to do in and around Charlotte.  Well I found a good one this weekend.  The Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville, about 30 miles north of Charlotte, fits both the unique and the fun aspect of my wants.  It’s guaranteed to be an adventure, lots of laughs and, if your trip is anything like mine, some good stories.

Route 150 eastbound from I-77 transitions from a 4 lane crowded shopping area clogged with slow moving traffic, to an older, yet still crowded area that still fits has the feel of a commercial jungle.  As the miles pass though you escape the grasps of urban planners and find yourself surrounded by dead end side streets, cornfields, and nothing but one line of paint separating you from the traffic headed back towards the retail rat race that now shrinking in the mirrors behind you.  Eventually the houses that were close enough to be able to claim to have next-door-neighbors spread farther and farther apart and then you see it.  Lazy 5 Ranch.

The entrance to the ranch had the traditional – or maybe I should say the traditional for tourist destinations, as I’m not sure if it is authentic – two rustic side poles holing up a wooden cross beam with a cow skull dead center.  The Lazy 5 Ranch sign dangled beneath assuring visitors they made it to the correct ranch.  As if the long horned cows, sheep, and lamas didn’t already let you know.  To each side of the gravel entrance road were two reindeer made out of hay bales wearing Santa hats either standing guard or acting as a welcome committee depending on your frame of mind.

After paying, what I consider, a nominal fee and getting a feed bucket (I’d recommend one for each person in the car) you drive to the entrance gate to the actual park which seems watched over by the older, wiser animals.  For me, my naivety took over and I went in windows down.  Wide open.  Basically inviting the greedy invasive animals to join us on our trip.  Before my back wheels crossed the threshold of open blocks that deter the the animals from leaving I had a pack of lamas at my side window.  I couldn’t but chuckle at the slobbery tongues begging for the pellets I had in a bucket on my lap.  Lazily I tossed a handful of the feed out the window for them to feed on.  They didn’t move.  It only took me a few seconds to figure out why.   These overfed, semi-domesticated, never-able-survive-in-the-wild-again animals weren’t about to eat off the ground.  They wanted handfuls of food from my hands.  Or straight out of the bucket.

Still laughing at the lamas, we never even saw the attack of the ostrich coming.  It was a complete sneak attack orchestrated by the whole inter-species gang.  I’m positive it was not the first time this mix had worked together to run this con.  Little pop-bellied pigs formed a roadblock by casually eating pellets from the road right in front of my tires, while their older, fatter, much uglier brothers and sisters ate from just beyond the tire tracks making it impossible to even turn out of the semi established mud path.  The lamas playfully continued invading the fringes of the cars perimeters by poking their heads in through the windows taking what they wanted. Once everyone was in place, and the unsuspecting victim (me) was distracted, the ostriches attacked.  Pointy beaks, and hungry, greedy, eyes infiltrated the vehicles cabin from all angles.  Using their long scrawny neck to their advantage they would stretch in and peck away at an unprotected bucket.  You couldn’t roll up the windows because you’d catch that freaky, strong, and probably government protected neck and snap it in the middle and end up with, what I can only image being, a still pecking beak on you lap.

For a good 10 minutes we wrestled with trying to trick, bribe, and semi-forcefully remove these animals from the path so that I could get the last part of my car into the actual park.  By inching forward, throwing food out of the sunroof, and finally getting a little physically aggressive we managed allow another car behind us to enter which started the entire process again, freeing us to move along.

Continuing on we came across many less aggressive animals.  Animals in the deer family were much friendlier and more demure about their quest for food.  Most of the larger, cattle animals including the water buffalo and red headed highland cattle didn’t even pay us any attention as we drove past them either lounging and meandering around.

Hi. I'm a giraffe

There are countless other stories from that hour and a half I could ramble on about, but Ill close with talking of the giraffes.  These long necked, big eared, eye bulging, completely odd proportioned animals also craved food and attention, but being one of the only animals actually in a cage hindered their progress.  That didn’t stop us from driving up the the fence (on an actual road) to hold our bucket high in the air and feed purple tongued animals.  They could not have been more friendly, less needy  and more appreciate.  One giraffe in particular, I’m calling him Juan for fun, seemed to love getting his photo taken from every angle.

The actual driving part of the tour took up a little over an hour, but took a few other cars less time as we pulled over to let them pass.  Personally, I didn’t want to rush through.  After all how many places in North Carolina can you be feet away from goats, camels, donkeys, lamas, ostriches (ostrich-i?), zebras, and many other animals I didn’t know the actual name of until I saw pictures of them on the Lazy 5 website.  That’s not to mention the animals you get to see after you drive through the park you and take a short walk to see countless birds, horses, and even a few kangaroo.

If you’re looking for something different, that will give you some good photo opportunities (full photo gallery), and surely lots of laughs no matter who you go with I’d totally recommend the Lazy 5 ranch. Finally a worthy adventure.

Here’s all the pictures.  Including many of Juan (the giraffe), and Barry the most persistent lama in the world, peacocks, lazy kangaroos, and a whole bunch of other stuff.

Gimme Gimme Gimme

Why the long face pal?

red-headed hippy cow thing

Watchu lookin' at fool

How many people would love this shot. (not with a camera)

I bet this thing tastes AWESOME!

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